Television

The Hissy Fit Generation and the Loss of Free Speech IV: The Narcissism Factor (2)

“…the oversensitivity of individuals today, including political correctness and microaggressions, all stem from this idea that people operating under the notion of the pristine self view you as evil because you are showing them something other than love.”

— Howard Schwartz, professor emeritus of Oakland University,


Continuing from the previous post which looked at how narcissism defines our present culture, and how it may feature in the younger generations of today. We now turn to the main sources manifesting normalised cultural and/or personality narcissism and its perpetuation.

Here are six key areas:

Parenting

We have to differentiate between cultural narcissism and the kind of abuse that comes from neglectful parents or what is called the narcissistic family. In the latter, this is a form of emotional abuse or covert narcissism sourced from one or other of the parents’ needs and desires taking precedent over the child’s. From an emotionally deficient family life the child’s sense of self is warped leading to intense shame since the expectation of a nurturing environment is absent. Psychologist Joseph Burgo describes this trauma and arrested emotional development as a result of “disappointed expectations”. When the genetic inheritance that offers a “blueprint of normality” is disrupted in the child, he knows at a deep level, that his  fundamental development has gone awry and he feels insecure and unsafe. Burgo explains: “instead of instilling a sense of beauty, an abusive or traumatic environment leaves the infant with a sense of internal defect and ugliness.” [1]

This sense of disgust and shame at the self has huge implications for the processing of feelings and social functioning. However, such covert narcissism is likely not the primary cause of the cultural narcissism we are now witnessing. There is very little empirical data to support it, whereas more modern studies show clear evidence that inflated feedback is the primary cause. In other words, the conditioning of overpraising and over-protection, where the child or infant is told over and over again that s/he is special and unique.

Telling a child that s/he is super smart and intrinsically special has been taught for several generations. Far from providing a healthy self-confidence this focus has encouraged a prince and princess syndrome; a generation of entitled, spoiled children with little defence against the objective realities of this world. Such well-intentioned coddling often results in a role reversal where the child becomes precociously “adult” and the parent reverts to child-like infantilism due to the dominance of the child’s personality – a wholly abnormal state of affairs. Far from feeling a deep-seated shame, the child genuinely believes that s/he is special and superior since it comes from a learned behaviour of entitlement – wired into the brain.

Although authoritarian parenting is most certainly not the answer, the pendulum has now swung toward the opposite extreme where indulgence misinterprets nurturing. Discipline and structure is an essential part of a child’s navigation and learning, but such an “old-fashioned” view is now shunned in favour of letting the child do and have exactly what s/he wants; where the child is constantly love-bombed with no boundaries or limits. And when the child or young adult eventually faces the real world he comes face to face with the fact that his love-cocoon, this pristine self has programmed an essential weakness in the face of life’s vicissitudes. Far from creating self-reliance and resilience this parenting creates the exact opposite, namely, a generation of “snowflakes” where all aspects of living are seen as a form of bullying and act of offence.  The capitulation of university campuses when confronted by these collective hissy fits only makes matters much worse.

(more…)

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The Mainstream Media (MSM)

 By M.K. Styllinski

“The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.”

– Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist


Perhaps the most important aspect for a healthy society is an equally healthy press. It is considered to be a defining feature of Western democracy. This would be true if such an ideal had ever been attained. As media commentator and MIT professor of Linguistics Noam Chomsky observed: “What is being reported blandly on the front pages would elicit ridicule and horror in a society with a genuinely free and democratic intellectual culture.” [1]

Media is a profitable business where truth has unfortunately been buried under an avalanche of corporate and political dictates the seeds of which were sown very early on its development. The nature of the “free market” and the forces that drive it are more than enough to make sure that the media and independent journalism would quickly dissolve into something quite different: to line the pockets of big business and to help the ruling class to justify its position in society, rather than help uncover the truth in any given situation. Truth is only relevant if it doesn’t threaten the money machine and social status.

Ever since Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays created the modern field of propaganda and the manipulation of public perception, older European governments and U.S. administrations have been routinely using his techniques. The greatest tool for perception management is through the organ of the global media, most especially in the US and UK. It is not that there is a conspiracy to create specific news stories, although that does happen, but that the very beliefs which underpin the reporting of news conforms to a form of self-censorship by the sin of omission. This, in conjunction with propaganda is highly effective. The now crumbling Murdoch Empire was a case in point. It is hardly likely that Murdoch and his editors would allow impartial reporting of issues that went counter to Murdoch’s own pro-Zionist and conservative beliefs, mostly notably seen via his Fox News network. And if there were such stories, then a suitable “spin” was sure to be provided ensuring a dilution or a twist on the original. [2]

In the long tradition of CIA and MI6 meddling, infiltration of Western media began in the 1940s with Operation Mocking Bird, the aim of which was total control of the American MSM. As the name cynically suggests, the idea was to embed journalists in every media outlet in the US who would then mimic journalism while in reality, they would follow and promote the government line.  As is usually the case in any effective intelligence operation there are well-intentioned dupes working alongside those that would sell their own grandmother for step up the career ladder.  Since then, disinformation and propaganda has characterised much of the global media, with the US-UK-Israel triangle cheer-leading all the way.

old-fashioned-tv© infrakshun

From the 1950s onwards the CIA ran a training school for Intelligence officers who were: ‘taught to make noises like reporters,’ … and then placed in major news organizations with help from top management. A CIA official said that: “These were the guys who went through the ranks and were told ‘You’re going to be a journalist,’” Relatively few of the 400 ‑ some relationships described in Agency files followed that pattern, however; most involved persons were already bona fide journalists when they began undertaking tasks for the Agency.” [3]

These journalists brought into the fold consisted of: legitimate, accredited staff members of news organizations—usually reporters; freelancers; employees of so‑called CIA ‘proprietaries;’ editors, publishers and broadcast network executives; columnists and commentators. News outlets traditionally associated with the CIA in the 1950s, 60s and 70s (and may still be) was The New York Times, Colombia Broadcasting company (CBS), Time and Newsweek magazines, The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Other newspapers included: The New York HeraldTribune, The SaturdayEvening Post, ScrippsHoward Newspapers, Associated Press, United Press International, the Mutual Broadcasting System, Reuters and the Miami Herald. [4]

Former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein quoted a former CIA deputy director referring to the Post’s publisher Phil Graham as: “…widely known that [he] was someone you could get help from”. Graham and his CIA colleagues discussed the availability and prices of journalists and according to one CIA agent: “You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month.” [5] As we will see in future posts, “information dominance” requires a level of Psychological Operations that not only co-opts the established media outlets but actively manipulates these assets to plant progressive disinformation which becomes accepted belief.

Thanks in part to a revealing 1974 expose The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence written by two ex-CIA agents, John D. Marks and Victor Marchetti, the agency had to cope with a series of investigations led by Senator Frank Church otherwise known as the Church Committee with assistance from the United States Senate Select Committee. It was to place the the existence of Operation Mocking Bird under intense scrutiny. According to the Congress report published in 1976: “The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets.” However, by the time George Bush became director of the CIA in 1976 the Church Committee’s report was effectively buried with the following statement made in February of that year designed to take the heat away from a program that undoubtedly remained in place: “Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contract relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.” As a footnote to this very public declaration Bush added that the CIA would continue to “welcome” the voluntary, unpaid cooperation of journalists. [6]

And if anyone believes a public statement given by the CIA has a shred of credibility at all then they need to do some research on intelligence agencies. Black is almost always white unless it benefits their objectives to say otherwise. The control and filtering of information is paramount.

One expert on propaganda and disinformation techniques is William Schaap, a practising lawyer and member of the bar of the State of New York and District of Columbia. He practiced military law in Asia and Europe after which he became the editor in chief of the Military Law Reporter in Washington for a number of years. In the 70’s and 80’s he was a staff counsel of the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York City. In the late 1980’s was an adjunct professor at John J. College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York where he taught courses on propaganda and disinformation. In his spare time he is an author and publisher on intelligence and foreign policy issues as well as squeezing in his managerial directorship of the Institute of Media analysis. In other words, this man is well qualified to speak about matters which have traditionally remained hidden from the public.

In an interview given on November 30 1999, Schaap gave his testimony on government propaganda and disinformation with special focus on the FBI and CIA. He talked of CIA’s presence in Angola in the mid-1970s during the war between the South Africans. The CIA’s job was to discredit the Cubans who were helping the Angolans. In order to do this, stories were concocted about Cuban soldiers raping Angolan women and Angolan militia tracking down Cuban soldiers and arresting them whereupon they were tried by the women victims and executed with their own weapons. Around twelve newspaper stories were circulated in the US, Europe and most of the prominent media outlets of the day.

When keywords and images are repeated with a fabricated story over and over again this can become truth in the individual’s mind. As in the above example: Angolan women = Rape = Cuban Soldiers. Propaganda result: Cuban soldiers are bad along with Cuban foreign policy. Despite the revelations by CIA officer John Stockwell proving that the atrocities were a pack of lies, people continued to believe that the atrocities occurred because the patterns of belief laid down in the brain over many years could not be shifted simply by exposing the truth. This is why the media serves as an incredible tool for the Establishment classes for maintaining their power base my manipulating belief systems or creating new ones. It also explains what an uphill struggle it is to reveal truth to a population that has been fed a diet of high-octane lies for many decades.  Nor has the fabrication of stories ended. It has in fact increased in intensity under the War on Terror hoax and the Anglo-American invasions in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and most recently in Syria.

Schaap was asked how extensive is the disinformation framework and his response was based on the reports from the 1970s in which: “… a third of the CIA budget went to media propaganda operations … we are talking about 100’s of millions of dollars a year, just for that…on deliberately creating and spreading lies.” [7]

mainstream-media

Nick Davies is another journalist who has exposed the deep levels of propaganda. In his book: Flat Earth News: an award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media (2008) Davies’ research has led him to conclude: “For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it.” [8]  He discovered that intelligence agencies are working with less and less oversight supported by a structure of “strategic communications … originally designed by doves in the Pentagon and NATO who wanted to use subtle and non-violent tactics to deal with Islamist terrorism but whose efforts are poorly regulated and badly supervised with the result that some of its practitioners are breaking loose and engaging in the black arts of propaganda.” [9]

While freelance political agitators offer their services and provide made up stories to intelligence agencies most of the most notorious fiction floating around the newswires comes the Pentagon, care of its “information operations.” Since October 2006, Davies writes:

“… every brigade, division and corps in the US military has had its own ‘PYSOPS’ [Psychological Operations] element producing output for local media. This military activity is linked to the State Department’s campaign of ‘public diplomacy’ which includes funding radio stations and news websites. In Britain, the Directorate of Targeting and Information Operations in the Ministry of Defence works with specialists from 15 UK PSYOPS * based at the Defence Intelligence and Security School at Chicksands in Bedfordshire.” [10]

The Bush administration perhaps represented the most blatant use of PSYOPS. Many journalists have been found to have accepted cash payments for the spreading of disinformation or the spreading of government policy. One example was Armstrong Williams, a commentator and talk-show host who received $240,000 to promote its education initiatives. The Bush Administration’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting also paid 10 journalists to provide anti-Castro commentary on Radio and TV Martí, which transmit to Cuba government broadcasts critical of Fidel Castro. [11]

The final nail in the coffin of a free and independent press arrived after the Reaganomics era of deregulation which allowed banking elites and the rise of corporatism to buy every facet of commercial life and ultimately the very machinery of governments themselves. (The Obama administration is similarly full of ex-corporate CEOs and Goldman Sacs executives) It was inevitable that media would become a casualty of the lowest common denominator of cartel capitalism so that maximum amounts of money kept flowing into the coffers. This has resulted in a rapid consolidation of companies which exert a powerful monopoly on what the public is allowed to digest as “news.”

These corporations are:

  • GE / Comcast – Jeffrey R. Immelt /  Brian Roberts: NBC Universal, E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, G4, The Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network.
  • CBS Corporation – Leslie Moonves: CBS News, CNET.
  • NewsCorp – Rupert Murdoch: Fox News, Wall St. Journal, Twentieth Century Fox.
  • Disney  – Robert Iger: Disney Channel, ABC News, ESPN, A+E Networks.
  • Time Warner – Jeffrey L. Bewkes: New Line Cinema, Time Inc., HBO, Turner Broadcasting System, The CW Television Network, Castle Rock Entertainment.
  • Viacom – Sumner M. Redstone: BET Networks, MTV Networks, and Paramount Pictures

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is a US political think tank which has had an unhealthy influence over US media for many decades. It straddles all of the media outlets and indirectly creates policy by saturating US society with its Elitist propaganda. In October 30, 1993 Washington Post ombudsman Richard Harwood wrote an op-ed piece about the role of the CFR’s media members stating: “Their membership is an acknowledgment of their ascension into the American ruling class [where] they do not merely analyse and interpret foreign policy for the United States; they help make it.” [12] To make a foreign policy consistent and effective control over the US media is a vital part of this process.

Right up to 2011, the American media was pimping itself out to foreign despots eager to cultivate a marketable image in the West. Until she blew the whistle on her bosses, Amber Lyon was a respected, Emmy award winning CNN reporter. She was fired from her job for reporting the truth which didn’t go down too well with her superiors who had been paid by the government of Bahrain to paint them all in a favourable light. Systematic torture of peaceful protesters wasn’t meant to be part of the deal:

Lyon’s special report on Bahrain was scheduled to run on both CNN’s U.S. and international networks, but was pulled after only a limited showing due to pressure from the Bahrainis and their lobbyists. At the same time that Lyon was risking her life to do on-the-ground reporting in Bahrain; another CNN journalist was filming a paid propaganda piece on how the Bahraini leaders are a bunch of friendly pro-democracy reformers. That’s right … the Bahraini government paid CNN to do what was literally an infomercial for that brutal regime and pretend it was real journalism. Lyon says that China and many other foreign, authoritarian regimes also pay CNN and other mainstream networks to run flattering propaganda pieces. [13]

Public Relations is now a huge part of outsourcing for those within the US and European military-intelligence apparatus. Information dominance has never been more important for moulding the minds of the latest culture in the line of fire. SOS International, MPRI, L-3 Communications, CentenaGroup, CorpComm Group, MyMic, Polestar Applied Technology and ICOR Partners are just some of the many firms bidding for contracts from the Pentagon and NATO forces.

The Lincoln Group has excelled as one of the most highly charged propaganda outfits of our times, with “Insight and Influence anywhere, anytime,” as one of its slogans and the lucrative propaganda bonanza of “War on Terror” under its purview. The precocious and mysterious Mr. Christian Bailey is its chief executive director.

As a dynamic 30-year-old Oxford graduate with no public relations experience he coincidentally became the lucky recipient of a $100m (£56m) contract from Donald Rumsfeld’s Department of Defence. One of his first tasks was to buy space in Iraqi newspapers and deliberately place biased stories in favour of US interests. [14] In effect, Christian Bailey, (real name: Christian Martin Jozefowicz) is one of the top Psychological Warfare companies operating on behalf of the Pentagon: “In early 2003, just before the invasion, Mr. Bailey formed a Lincoln subsidiary, the Lincoln Alliance Corp, offering ‘tailored intelligence services [for] government clients faced with intelligence challenges.’ He also formed another subsidiary, Iraqex, which won a $6 million Pentagon contract to launch ‘an aggressive advertising and PR campaign that will accurately inform the Iraqi people of the coalition’s goals and gain their support.” [15]

The Lincoln Group website, at lincolngroup.com (now a dead link) painted a romantic picture of boundless innovation and cheery confidence as it strove to keep the wheels of propaganda spinning. Far more invasive black operations are taking place beyond its slick and clinical sounding PR pitch. Christian Bailey would no doubt have been happy with the website blurb which painting a patriotic surge of technicians doing their finger-tapping best for freedom. In fact, in the initial stages of the Iraq invasion and much later they were:

“… working with US and overseas corporations and organizations to develop an in-country capability in Baghdad and Basra. Located both at the center of power and the commercial gateway of the country, Lincoln will act as a central clearinghouse for businesses seeking to do business in Iraq. Lincoln will provide the information, research, and contacts necessary to develop and grow business within the country. Lincoln will also provide a threat and risk assessment service through its ASP service, allowing clients to understand and mitigate the perceived security risk and dangers present in country.” [16]

It all sounds as sharp and incisive as a surgeon’s scalpel, this “in country capability” – No mess, no bodies or blood – just the freshly plucked American patriotism and some substantial pay packets. This changed to a more coy description in August 2007 depicting the Lincoln Group as a “strategic communications firm that provides our clients with access to cultures which have historically been difficult to reach through traditional Western communications.”

Which means very non-traditional methods are used to gain access and extract resources.

One medal that Lincoln can pin on their staff suit and ties includes a significant amount of spin over the mass slaughter of civilians in the attacks on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. An ABC report confirmed Lincoln’s involvement through a strategy document entitled: ‘The Making of Heroes: Lincoln Group and the Fight for Fallujah’ — part of the Pentagon’s multi-million dollar public relations campaign to sell the American war effort to the Iraqis.” This revealed its attempts to promote ‘the strength, integrity and reliability of Iraqi Forces during the fight for Fallujah.’ In fact, it was to promote lies in favour of genocide that city came to represent. Almost 70 per cent of the city was destroyed by US forces, from civilian houses to medical centres and general services facilities. Thousands of innocent men, women and children were killed and almost half million refugee produced in the aftermath. [17]  Let’s also not forget that Fallujah may have been used as a large-scale testing ground for experimental weaponry including chemical, laser, fission and microwave. Many witness reports from both Iraqi civilians and US military speak of injuries consistent with such warfare where persons were bleeding from their eyes and ears or simply melted where they stood. This is the kind of PR which enabled secrecy and media blackouts about such crimes to remain concealed. [18]

The report went on to say: “Under the heading ‘Rumor Control,’ according to the  document, the Lincoln Group strives to dispel the notion that the war is ‘America’s fight’ or that Iraqi forces were defecting…‘It’s a little strange to see because even the Pentagon’s own estimates and the administration’s own estimates of the state of the Iraqi forces in 2004 when these fights for Fallujah occurred were never very glowing,’ said Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution.” [19]

The firm was also responsible for covertly planting wholly fabricated stories in Iraqi news outlets throughout 2005 “…designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military”. The stories were written by U.S. military “information operations” troop with “… the Lincoln Group’s Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes [posing] as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets.” [20]

The Los Angeles Times reported that PSYOPS campaigns were being directed by “‘Information Operations Task Force’ in Baghdad, part of the multinational corps headquarters commanded by Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines. … As part of a psychological operations campaign that has intensified over the last year, the task force also had purchased an Iraqi newspaper and taken control of a radio station, and was using them to channel pro-American messages to the Iraqi public. Neither is identified as a military mouthpiece.” [21]

Astonishingly, far from the practice being condemned it was summarily encouraged an internal review having “concluded that the US military was not violating U.S. law or Pentagon guidelines.” [22] The US military are thus continuing to pay Iraqi newspapers and other Middle Eastern countries to publish articles favourable to the United States commensurate with the required geo-political expansion within those regions. As we have seen, the practice isn’t restricted to foreign countries – they’ve been doing it in the Establishment media for years.

As all these undemocratic strategies are combined with the new global private armies masquerading as security firms and you have the emergence of a new kind of warfare characterized by PSYOPS and mercenary outsourcing. This was clearly part of Donald Rumsfeld’s new espionage baby the “Strategic Support Branch,” which “deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.” Not only was formed from “reprogrammed” funds but it operated “without explicit congressional authority or appropriation.” It was a far more secretive unit that rivalled the CIA and directly answerable to Donald Rumsfeld which some have said allowed the Defence Secretary far too much power. The Lincoln Group fits comfortably into Rumsfeld’s strategy “…to find new tools to penetrate and destroy the shadowy organizations, such as al Qaeda, that pose global threats to U.S. interests in conflicts with little resemblance to conventional war.” [23]

By 2006, the firm had entered into more than 20 Defence Department contracts one of which amounted to almost $100 million and a variety of commercial and non-military government deals. Iraq remained a major source of capital where research, communications and even direct investing in the newly acquired was carried out.  [24]  By September, the Lincoln Group was the beneficiary of another two-year contract “to handle PR and strategic communications” for the U.S. military in Iraq worth $6 million per year, with increases available for $20 million if necessary. This time the PR strategies wasn’t restricted to Iraq but were part of a strategy to manipulate perception and media throughout the Middle East. [25] In the same year the company was heavily involved on various PR fronts inside Pakistan, having established its office in Islamabad in November of 2005. Under cover of humanitarian research and coordination, market research and demography for companies intending to invest in Pakistan, the Lincoln Group is still a primary PR tool for the Pentagon and its long-term strategy of pre-emptive warfare and colonisation.

2008, proved to be another busy and lucrative year. A $14.3 million contract from the U.S. Army to promote the Army’s “Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization campaign” which got under way in July. [26] By September, the Lincoln Group had won a three-year, $300 million contract for “information operations” in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since there are presently more than three times as many PR people in America as there are journalists, it seems the company’s expertise and many others like it, will be used by the Pentagon for many years to come. [27]

Network pic 4

Network (1976) Ned Beatty as the personification of Media Corporatism

Perhaps the most searing indictment on the nature of the modern media was delivered by the 1976 film Network, a biting satire on the nature of broadcasting and media. Written with disturbing clarity and prophetic vision by Paddy Chayefsky, it tells the story of Howard Beale, a newscaster and media celebrity who teeters on the edge of a breakdown while exploring the dynamics of a popular news network that surrounds him. Peter Finch earned a posthumous for his portrayal of Beale second only to a star performance by Ned Beatty who plays the role of a corporate sponsor. An extract from his speech follows in which he berates the newscaster for attempting to wake up the people with his new one-man show. He is biting the hand that feeds him and more importantly, showing the true nature of television and the business world:

You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU… WILL… ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?

You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.

What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that… perfect world… in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel. [28]

The above extract is drawn directly from Chayefsky’s own experience in media. As we shall see in the coming chapters, it is a perception of life which exists across all domains of society. Increasing commercialisation, consolidation and monopolisation of media and entertainment networks has produced a dizzying array of “info-tainment” channels where quality is sacrificed for quantity permitting greater conformity to governmental and corporate influence which entice journalists to value their careers and kudos over truth.  The information revolution and alternative media found on the internet is already chipping away at this Establishment edifice and it remains to be seen how long the internet can remain a source of genuine free speech.

The Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham epitomised why distrust of the MSM is at record levels. Terry Hansen quotes her astonishing offering in his Missing Times (p.83) where in 1988, she told a meeting of CIA officials: “… there are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.”

 


* Largely because of political sensitivities, psychological warfare has had several names during the 20th century, including propaganda, political warfare, and psychological operations (PSYOPS). It encompasses activities to weaken the enemy’s will, reinforce loyalty, and gain the military or moral support of the uncommitted, usually through the control and management of news and information. Its rise in importance is directly related to the development of print and other media, particularly in the last 100 years. Put simply, it is perception management. The aggressive needs of psychological warfare in a world war have since given way to the different aims of psychological operations in times of peace. Although the distinction between it and propaganda is often indistinct, the former is based on presenting a version of the truth (or perceived truth) to an enemy, whilst propaganda has come to mean peddling a lie, often to one’s own side. […] (Oxford Companion to British Military history) | As of 2010, the US Army has dropped the Vietnam-era name “psychological operations” in favour of a more neutral moniker of “Military Information Support Operations,” or MISO.


Notes

[1] p.91; Powers and Prospects: Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order By Noam Chomsky, Published by Pluto Press 1996 |  ISBN-10: 0745311067.
[2] http://www.outfoxed.org/ – “Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism.” (2002).
[3] ‘The CIA the Media’ – How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up. By Carl Berstein. Rolling Stone on October 20, 1977.
[4] Ibid.
[5] ‘How the Washington Post Censors the News’ A Letter to the Washington Post by Julian C. Holmes, April 25, 1992.
[6] Mockingbird: CIA Media Manipulation By Mary Louise, published in 2003 from http://www.rcfp.org/ archived on http://www.apfn.org/apfn/mockingbird.htm
[7] William Schaap: ‘The Media, CIA, FBI & Disinfo.’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4rFXjGJ5os
[8] Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media by Nick Davies Published by Random House UK, 2009 | ISBN-10: 0099512688.
[9] ‘How the spooks took over the news’ by Nick Davies, The Independent, February 11, 2008.
[10] Ibid.
[11] ‘U.S. Paid 10 Journalists for Anti-Castro Reports’By Abby Goodnough, The New York Times, September 9, 2006.
[12] ‘Ruling Class journalists’ by Richard Horwood, Washington Post October 30, 1993.
[13] ‘3 Time Emmy Award Winning CNN Journalist: Mainstream Media Takes Money from FOREIGN Dictators to Run Flattering Propaganda’ September 30, 2012 by Washington’s Blog.
[14] ‘So, just who is Christian Bailey?’ By Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, December 17, 2005.[Note: Christian Bailey is apparently now head of http://curatedinnovation.org/ which is “a Cambridge-based innovation lab which brings together leading university scientists, donors, and investors to create technology that will make an impact on a health issue they care about.”
[15] ‘Godalming geek made millions running the Pentagon’s propaganda war in Iraq’ By Patrick Foster and Tim Reid, Times online, December 24, 2005.
[16] http://www.lincolngroup.com/1068 Inside the Public Relations Blitz to Sell Iraq War Overseas ABC News, Dec. 14, 2005.1069 Ibid.1070 ‘Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld’s Domain New Espionage Branch Delving Into CIA Territory’ By Barton Gellman, Washington Post, January 23, 2005.
[17] ‘Genocide In Fallujah’ By Brussells Tribunal, 27 March, 2005.| http://www.countercurrents.org/iraq-bt270305.htm
[18] ‘US Forces use WMD in Iraq’ | http://www.brusselstribunal.org/WMD.htm
[19] op. cit. ABC News Report.
[20] ‘U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press: Troops write articles presented as news reports. Some officers object to the practice,’ By Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2005.
[21] Ibid.
[22] ‘Military Will Keep Planting Articles in Iraq. The ranking U.S. general there says a Pentagon review found the program does not violate policy. It could be replicated elsewhere,’ By Mark Mazzetti, Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2006.
[23]  op. cit. Gellman.
[24] ‘Secret no more. Inside the Pentagon’s Iraqi PR firm,’ By Justin Fox, Fortune Magazine/Fox News, January 20, 2006.
[25] Lincoln Group Tapped for $6M  Iraq PR Pact ODwyer, Sept. 26, 2006 | http://www.odwyerpr.com/editorial/0926iraq_lincoln_group.htm
‘LG Fights IEDs in Afghanistan,’ O’Dwyer’s PR Daily, August 7, 2008.
[26] ‘Defense Taps PR Firms for Iraq,’ O’Dwyer’s PR Daily, September 25, 2008.
[27] ‘Journalism Vacuum Filled by PR Professionals, or Spin Doctors?’ June 2, 2011 in Online public relations, http://www.intersectionofonlineandoffline.com
[28] Network (1976) Screenwriter: Paddy Chayefsky – “Fear of an Arab Buy-Out.” Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen.

Pornucopia: The Cult of the Body II

woman 2“Porn reflects the endemic cruelty of our society. This is a society that does not blink when the industrial slaughter unleashed by the United States and its allies kills hundreds of civilians in Gaza or hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Porn reflects back the cruelty of a culture that tosses its mentally ill on the street, warehouses more than 2 million people in prisons, denies health care to tens of millions of the poor, champions gun ownership over gun control, and trumpets an obnoxious and super patriotic nationalism and rapacious corporate capitalism. The violence, cruelty, and degradation of porn are expressions of a society that has lost the capacity for empathy.”

― Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle


Author and psychologist Marnia Robinson thinks that Internet porn is “an extreme superstimulus.” This is due to massive changes in our environment which has left the “reward circuitry” and mammalian brain lagging behind. Bingeing on food and sex evolved as a response to when these opportunities were scarce. Now there is an endless stream of superstimuli which play havoc with our reward circuitry which can lead to withdrawal symptoms, cravings and compulsions for more stimulation, and sometimes more permanent brain changes. [1]

Sounds like the foundation upon which Official Culture thrives …

The cycles of stimulus and withdrawal are caused by peaks and crashes of dopamine making a return to normalcy extremely difficult. Moreover, the genetically-driven push to focus on the object of our evolutionary desires is not necessarily a guarantee that it’s worth our attention or that our mammalian brains have got it right. And usually, it hasn’t.

Urban environments often ensure that we become addicts to a greater or lesser degree placing our attention away from things that offer stability and quality in the long term but do not always deliver the dopamine kick that takes us out of the inevitable melancholy that we face when trapped in these cycles. Dopamine does not necessarily have any connection with the liking or the end result of the “chase” but it is very much linked to the process of wanting. With constant superstimulus soaking the young brains of teenage boys with unnatural quantities of dopamine, this sets up and consolidates the neuronal connections responsible for the various cravings and associated compulsive behaviours that internet porn users become habituated. This leads to massive “re-wiring” of certain images into the pleasure centres of the brain. When these images do not elicit the same level of dopamine response, then more “hardcore” images are needed to do the job.

The final result is a re-shaping of the brain as psychiatrist Norman Doidge observes: “Pornographers promise healthy pleasure and relief from sexual tension, but what they often deliver is addiction, tolerance [the need for more extreme stimulation], and an eventual decrease in pleasure. Paradoxically, the male patients I worked with often craved pornography but didn’t like it.” [2]

Referring to young male adult porn addicts Robinson describes the addiction in these terms: “There was always another enticing image just a click away, and their mammalian brains were determined to leave no picture unfertilized. Their issue wasn’t shame; it was addiction. When they tried to unhook themselves, they faced intense withdrawal symptoms that fluctuated in intensity for weeks.” [3]

As we will see as a recurrent theme in these posts, the side effects of frequent “supranormal stimulation” means that normal pleasures atrophy and slowly lose their capacity to please us. It is then that we face a progressive habituation to pathology that is caused by a change in our perceptions. It also increases the likelihood of “cross-tolerance” where other forms of addiction are drawn into the sphere of overstimulation. This is one of new and potent addictions characterising Official Culture. If that is so, what effects will this have on the societies in the near future?

Robinson tells us:

A recent study showed that mere exposure to images of sexy females could cause a man to devalue his real-life partner. He rated her lower not only on attractiveness, but also on warmth and intelligence… Other experiments show that porn causes men to devalue marital fidelity and makes them more likely to believe that women like rough sex…These shifts set off a downward spiral, making partners less likely to engage in the generous affection that actually bonds them and lets them enjoy each other. [4]

Children will mimic and experiment with what they see at an early age representing a natural stage in child development that is often colloquially labelled “doctors and nurses.” However, the easy availability of sex and violence on the internet and T.V. with “jolting” images disconnected from context have its effects on the psyche of the child. There are cases which reflect the premature absorption of programming that “forces” children to partially act out certain scenarios for sexual experimentation that will be beyond the emotional maturity needed for such adult explorations. In many cases progressive and habitual exposure to pornography has played a key role in influencing this experimentation.[5] Though it may not be a primary factor in every case, both in minor offences and criminal felonies, pornography is invariably present as an indirect or direct influence, particularly with rapists and child molesters, as we shall see presently. [6]

London is the official porn capital of Europe and with over £31.1 billion slice of the $57.0 billion global market; [7] pornography is becoming so acceptable that teenage girls are beginning to see it as a valid career choice. In “porn-speak” this acceptability starts from “glamour” as it is now named. It is this glamour industry ideal that is attractive to over 63 percent of 1,000 girls questioned in a British survey 25 percent preferred the idea of lap dancing. [8] The mobile phone has also been taken over by instant messaging porn. Now you can get aroused during a coffee break or in rush-hour traffic.

As far back as 1999, Internet tracking company Forrester Research, estimated that $1bn of the $7.8bn spent online went on pornography. It has since doubled. Private Media Group, On Command Corp. and Metro Global Media and Vivid Entertainment are just some of the porn corporations listed on NASDAQ. Wall Street knows that selling sex is immensely profitable which is why AT&T, MCI, Time-Warner, Comcast, Echo Star Communications, GM’s DirecTV, Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, Radisson, VISA, MasterCard and American Express, as a brief sample, are all involved in receiving enormous revenues from the porn industry. They are understandably coy about revealing this side of their financial interests.

The first cable company to offer hard-core adult movies to subscribers was Adelphia Communications Corp. who had also donated large sums of money to some of the most right wing members of Congress. Some of the hotel chains such as Marriott and Hilton earn about $190 million per year from in-room pay-per-view porn videos while AT&T and MCI WorldCom are leading the 1-900 phone-sex market, generating almost $1 billion per year. [9]

woman 2Adult toys chain Castle Superstores Corp operates outlets in 11 Wal-Mart stores in the Mid-West of the US, while Europe too is getting in on the act. In the late nineties German bank Commerzbank acted as financial advisor for Beate Uhse, a German sex merchandise firm that floated on the Neuer Market. It was not the first flotation to tempt the family bank. In fact, it has taken part in many of Europe’s biggest porn-related, corporate deals. [10] Due to the accessibility of internet porn there is undoubtedly a rise in children and teenagers becoming addicted to images which distort an otherwise healthy sexual self, leading to young people objectifying both sexes in their quest for peer approval. Sex and love are terminally confused in the world of the adult, let alone the emerging adolescent. There appears to be a deficit of accessible examples of healthy loving relationships, though there are more than enough instances of sex as the primary channel by which young adults can find their identity – minus the emotional know-how to go with it. For young males especially, porn offers and instance release of tension and an easy access to endless images catering to equally endless hormones.

In one researcher’s words, boys are: “consuming porn literally every day since they were 14. Our sexual cues and desires are learnt during adolescence, and . . . these young men were regularly viewing bestiality and group sex”. Many researchers agree that the average age of exposure to pornography begins at around eleven years old, though 90 percent of children are exposed to some form of pornography from the ages of eight – sixteen, often while doing their homework. [11]

Assuming we are even online at all, how familiar are we with what is out there on the wonderful world of the internet? Carry out a search using the keyword “porn” and you will find over 130 million hits alone with well over 260 million pornography related internet pages.[12] Some of the easily accessible websites include links to a variety of other sites which include hard-core porn categories which make up by far, the biggest market. This may be categorised variously as “interracial sex”, “S&M”, “Fetish”, “Anal”, “Rape” “Mature” “Transsexual”, “Rough” “Extreme” “Bi,” “Lesbian”, “Gay” “Bestiality”, “Teen,” “Hirsute”, “Ebony,” “Latino,” “Blonde”, etc. in an almost endless stream of titles to cater for soft porn to extreme deviancy. All the above categories have sub-titles with endless networked sites that create revenue from DVD sales, sex toys and one off monthly, quarterly and yearly subscriptions.

Although some sites have an adult password age verification warnings, the former can easily be obtained, while the latter is ignored by any hormonally compromised school boy. All, or most of these websites will include free samples of movies and clips of both soft and hard core sex acts from playboy models to Japanese-schoolgirl-sadomasochistic bondage; foot-loving fetish to farm-yard animal exploits. All is accessible on your friendly family search engine if parental controls are not observed.

Do-it-yourself-porn is also online with a vengeance. Webcams are hosted by either company backed porn starlets or individual “amateur teens” branching out into their own blog with “pay-to-view” live-cam experiences. We can be sure that the internet is providing an expansion of both amateur and professional porn entrepreneurialism. The internet is merely reflecting the next phase of “market need” that is appearing within the technology-savvy living rooms of our “American beauty” suburbia. [13] Dating websites have the technological capability to meet your every sexual need it seems… A variety of spin off porn-come-dating sites have sprung up where you find the partner of your dreams or just have “no strings attached” (NSA) fun. Sexsearch, Adultfriendfinder, Be Naughty and countless others have millions of members between them. Via online instant messaging linked with a webcam you can obtain your “quickie” and get a good eye-full of what lies in store.

Most however, discover that the majority of these potential dates are either those looking to exercise their online fantasies without ever leaving their home and others who are merely “scammers” looking to earn an extra income by stripping off. Most of these women are from 18 to 30 the average age being 21. Theses entrepreneurs  use dating websites to hook potential clients from the “chat” system eventually asking for payment for a nude show from the individual’s mobile or an online payment system. Obviously the dating websites are none too pleased but attempts to stem the flood of such young lucrative exhibitionism is an uphill struggle. Young men and women are also getting in on the act by creating subscription webcams with a variety of carrots to retain their followers.  There are also websites which allow you to submit your own amateur porn to a communities of ardent hedonists.  Blogging platforms such as Tumblr are particuarly awash with closely networked hetero and gay subject matter which spans artistic erotica to simulated rape.

All of which is accessible to your average young teen – if they aren’t getting in on the act themselves that is.

The porn industry is proving to be highly lucrative. Web-cams or digital videos, the do-it-yourself amateur porn business is booming with “self-help” books teaching you “how to get rich quick.” A cursory peruse around internet book stores offer such titles as Adult Website Money: How to Build, Start, and Market an Adult Website Business for Little to No Cost in 30 Days! Or, How To Use Your Computer Internet Skills To Get a Date or Have Sex with a Video Porn Star, Stripper, Escort or Model. Then there is the feverish title of Adult Video Business: How You Can Find Attractive Women to Star in Your Own Adult Films, Make Money, and Quit Work in 7 Weeks. They are beginning to appear more frequently each year. And as the author of one popular paperback claims: “She lives happily on the beach in Malibu with her Jack Russell terrier, Arpy.” [14]

With such a glowing endorsement of well-adjusted porn stars with their contented pooches it seems there is no need to worry, the porn business is comfortably seating itself into the mainstream. That being the case, one piece of research urges caution over what they consider to be a “porn myth” as regards online saturation of pornography websites. In a study conducted by Dr. Steve Lawrence and Dr. C. Lee Giles for the NEC Research Institute they found that only 1.5 percent of Web sites contain pornographic content. This is more understandable when “the Web contains about 800 million pages encompassing about 15 terabytes of data and about 180 million images.” And further: ‘The sex sites were much less than you would have thought,’ Lawrence said.” Their findings also confirm that it is not so much pornography that has taken over the web but corporations and their commercial websites that make up 83 percent of internet with only 6 percent containing scientific or educational content. [15]

images© infrakshun

Nevertheless, there is much more the search engines cannot access or index which logically amounts to millions and millions of sites. Yet half of the porn sites (though not the most popular with US surfers) are hosted outside the US, so American-based legislation will continue to be ignored. This is both good in terms of censorship and bad in terms of those underage. Possibilities for blocking are available, assuming that parents are sufficiently able to monitor their offspring which is unlikely. Moreover, whether there are only 10 million, 20 million or 260 million, if a child punches into a search engine an overtly sexual term – which they will – it does not matter the precise number if websites that will instantly appear offering hardcore images to view. The pages are there. And pornography of even 15 years ago has transformed into the cyber porn of the 21st century which bears no resemblance at all to its former top shelf days. Playboy and Penthouse are like the soft whispers of a tabloid angel compared to the material any school boy can access.

In Asia, many Japanese men feel threatened by the growing sophistication of women in their country and are therefore turning to the fantasy of prostitutes dressed up as school-girls. “Image Clubs” as they are called cater for every paedophilia fantasy for a price tag of over $170 an hour. As it is legal for men to have sex with children older than 12 and with no specific child pornography laws, porn involving minors is regularly and widely consumed. Japan is drenched with paedophilia imagery from Manga comics to coffee adverts.

Prosecutions of hard core contraband have actually decreased as popularity for more extreme versions of porn have increased which include bestiality, sadomasochism, necrophilia, rape and incest. In the early 1980s, European and American pornographic video tapes were the most prevalent form of contraband seized by Japanese custom agents from travellers returning from aboard. One researcher illustrates the level of the American exporting of porn has now been normalized abroad: “These materials were routinely confiscated. Now such tapes are locally produced and readily available in Japanese shops. They often contain actors or actresses that are still legal minors.” [16]

The spear-heading of the new Capitalistic-Communist phenomenon that is the Republic of China has the sex industry generally at the forefront of its economic drive. The country now provides 70 percent of the world’s sex toys. Plastic vaginas, red bondage outfits and all shapes and sizes of vibrators are part of the new boom industry.[17]

China’s youth is also becoming more promiscuous with increasing cases of Triad-run prostitution rackets. A lack of sex education is being filled by porn, violent computer games and conformity to the state. To ease the transition from one form of Pathocracy to another; a communist paucity to a capitalist excess is now fusing together.

The interactive possibilities of cyber-porn has corporations salivating at the prospect of finally and literally plugging in our senses to a virtual world of soft, seductive fantasy. This is still far from reaching the dizzy heights talked of in cyber magazines and net journals. However, imagine that you can eventually install an “in-game body” to act just like your biological body, where your brain is disconnected from your biological senses and connected to synthetic ones?

Somehow, I don’t think this will end well …

 


Notes

[1] p.136; Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships by Marnia Robinson. Published by North Atlantic Books,U.S.  2009. / ISBN-10: 1556438095.
[2] Ibid. (p.149)
[3] Ibid. (p.143)
[4] Ibid. (p.146)
[5] ‘Hamilton School Children Imitating TV and Internet Porn in Sexual “Experiments”’ April 5, 2004 LifeSiteNews.com
[6] W. L. Marshall, ‘The Use of Sexually Explicit Stimuli by Rapists, Child Molesters, and Non-offenders,’ The Journal of Sex Research 25, no.2 (May 1988): 267-88. This study reported that 53 per cent of child molesters deliberately used the stimuli of pornography as they prepared to offend.
[7] N2h2.com survey from http://www.securecomputing.com
[8] ‘Mummy, I want to be a porn star’ by Kira Cochrane, The Sunday Times September 18, 2005.
[9] ‘Wall Street Meets Pornography’ by Timothy Egan, New York Times, October 23, 2000.
[10] ‘Selling sex: A Beate Uhse store’ by Edward Helmore, The Observer, September 12, 1999.
[11] p.58; Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Families by Pamela Paul. Published by St. Martin’s Griffin; Reprint edition, 2006 | ISBN-10: 0805081321.
[12] N2h2.com survey from securecomputing.com (data from 2003).
[13] ‘Officers discover sex-slave cult’ BBC News, 19 May 2006 “Durham Police discovered the bizarre sect after raiding a home in the area, after receiving complaints that a woman was being held against her will. But a spokesman said the Canadian was a willing participant and the other people involved were consenting adults. The group, called Kaotians, follow the Chronicles of Gor novels which depict a society where women are dominated. The 29-year-old woman is said to have voluntarily attended the sect after finding out about it over the internet.
[14] 1-2-3 Be a Porn Star! A Step-By-Step Guide to the Adult Sex Industry by Ana Lori
[15] ‘Why is the Web like an iceberg?’ By Joel Deane, ZDNet News, July 6, 1999.
[16] ‘Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan’ International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 22(1): 1-22. 1999.
[17]  ‘Sex is China’s latest boom industry’ by Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, June 25, 2005.

Pornucopia: The Cult of the Body I

crudenude By M.K. Styllinski

“Lying is the native language of porn stars because they can’t afford to tell you the truth. Not only would it ruin the fantasy for their fans but more importantly, it would ruin the amount of their paychecks.”

– Shelly Lubben, ex-top porn-star


Even though responsible cosmetic surgeons insist that their clients must be 18 to have surgery, many girls (who are now mature much more quickly) will be seen by the surgeon if accompanied by an adult such as a parent. It is the army of advertisers, television makeover shows, obsessive celebrities and film stars which create the demand for the booming global business of cosmetic surgery. [1]

A recent study found that by the age of 12, three-quarters of girls disliked something about their appearance and by 16, one in four were considering cosmetic surgery. [2] In the US, cosmetic surgery is another symptom of a growing number of insecure girls and women. Americans spent just under $12.5 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2004. [3] Some of the most popular treatments include liposuction, tummy tucks, breast enlargements, eyelid surgery, face lifts, lip implants, and rhinoplasty. Non-surgical cosmetic procedures are also rocketing with Botox and collagen fat injections, chemical peels, micro-dermabrasion, haylauronic acid and laser hair removal, all up by large percentages, hyaluronic acid being the most significant at a whopping 659 percent. [4] Or perhaps you want a: “… booty like J-Lo’s? With buttock-boosting surgery, it can be yours!” In nearly every US state plastic surgeons are being inundated with requests from patients to provide them gluteal implants, the latest rage among young and not so young, American women. [5] In 2004, the upward trend in popularity for cosmetic surgery continued to almost 11.9 million surgical cases. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) this represents a colossal 465 percent increase in the total number of cosmetic procedures.[6] Once again, the onus on women to change is represented by a total of 90 percent of all the surgery with men at only 8 percent. The most common procedures for age 18-and-under were: laser hair removal, chemical peel, microdermabrasion, rhinoplasty, and laser skin resurfacing.

The number of teens who choose to get plastic surgery is also on the rise. 335,000 people 18 years and younger had plastic surgery in 2003, up from about 306,000 in 2000. Although much of this includes procedures that could be considered necessary such as scarring, facial or body abnormalities, or where individuals suffer from severe psychological stress, equally appears to result from children’s distorted attitudes to their bodies. Consequently, the most common procedures teens choose include nose reshaping, ear reshaping, acne treatment, and breast reduction/enlargement.

In Scotland, UK, under the influence of ever more available pornography and glamour rags hundreds of teenagers have had National Health Service (NHS) funded cosmetic surgery, including breast enlargement, some of them in a desperate bid to escape being bullied at school. [7] While across the Atlantic, a rise in breast enlargements for teens in California stem mainly from peer pressure and the quest to find the perfect image for graduation. One surgeon commented on the latest influx of 16-18 year olds who regarded the surgery: “as having your hair done or getting a new watch.” [8] Or, as another surgeon expressed it, breasts are indeed a “fashion item.” And with prices for breast augmentation starting at just under $4,000 to $10,000 this is definitely a nouveau-riche teen market that ultimately plays havoc with girls’ transition to womanhood and their place in a male dominated world.

As in the US, Australia’s Gold Coast graduates are taking on jobs to fund their wish for bigger breasts or smaller noses.  Singapore’s recent boom in cosmetic surgery includes a surgical makeover package “the trendy new thing to do in a wealthy city-state, where girls as young as 15 have their features altered or enhanced.”[9] Or if you tire of the dangers of silicon perhaps you would like to grow your own breasts via stem cell research, currently the rage in Russia? [10] There appears to be no limit to the lengths to which our body sense is forced into new synthetic designs and no limit to the number of surgeons willing to line their pockets to do so.

As a major symptom of our narcissistic culture we are seeing a rising tide of body-centrism manifesting through the highly lucrative worlds of entertainment. Voyeurism is a standard mechanism of T.V. and cinema. Our desire for  “reality T.V.” and “true life” drama veers dangerously close to feeding off and “getting off” on the cruel and degenerate, the salacious and gratuitous, to which we are now all accustomed to believing is somehow “entertaining.” The task of entertaining (or entraining) the new generations of children has been taken on by what has been called the “pimp and whore” culture of the pop world, where role models appear to be celebrating the underbelly of human trafficking and prostitution that befall millions of girls and young women worldwide.

Pop icons such as Christina Aguilera, or Rhianna fresh from the factory line of “made-to-order-music” simulate endless videos of choreographed “orgies,” while scores of Beyoncé’s and Britney’s writhe around their male dancers creating “doggy-style” dance poses, pouting cynically while their managers and accountants salivate. They are curious ambassadors for a kind of soft porn consciousness for emerging teenagers. School girls think that this is worthy of their aspirations in order to be liked and loved adding to the burgeoning pressure to conform and perhaps even contributing to a rise in the early onset of puberty. [11]

X-factor, American Idol and Big brother reality shows are the mainstay of weekend television. Programmes such as Dutch reality TV show “Pimp my life” is a case in point and representative of an extreme but increasingly common trend. Tramps are plucked off the street, given a state of the high-life then sent out to get a job within a certain timescale. The cable Music channel MTV’s “Pimp my Ride” that showcases new talent all normalise and popularise the jargon of the underworld. This creates the idea that prostitution and exclusive sex are cool and hip. They become role models and legitimate aims of the young, tied as they are into fashion and entertainment that are so much a part of youth consciousness. When such images are partnered with multi-million dollar advertising campaigns the emptiness of this programming only reinforces insecurity and self-esteem problems. To be liked, one must be thin; to be accepted one must be wearing the latest Nike trainers; to be desired one must be, above all super-sexual. Too bad that these are purely tried and tested marketing ploys aimed at tapping the freshly rushing hormones of youth in order to provide maximum dividends for the old.

Sex, not least pornography, has settled easily into the mainstream flow. It is not a question of playing a puritanical card or being prudish concerning the nature of human sexuality, rather, the mainstreaming of the sex industry as a relatively marginal influence has come to occupy a strategic and central position in the development of international capitalism and sociocultural mores. We see the continuing “prostitution” meme manifesting in implicit and explicit terms. Entertainment is the residual leftover of this toxic economy in human misery.

With adulthood effectively being sold to kids of a younger and younger age, there is now a kind of caste snobbery in the classroom where children judge each other by their branding and their wealth. Teens now aspire to be twenty-something’s in a manner more desperate than even ten years ago. Look at glossy magazines and the almost pre-pubescent girls on many advertising campaigns appear to cater for the pederast within the fashion industry than the ordinary buyer.  You may also find it difficult to correctly age teenagers now as we walk in the high street. This has ramifications for sexual misdemeanours and alleged felonies when 14 year olds look 6 to 7 years older due to biological factors, peer pressure and the associated influences of the entertainment and media industry that demand their brand of “perfection.” The two influences may not be unconnected.

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

The Miley Cyrus entertainment puppet who introduced the “twerking” phenomenon as another variant of simulated sex. An updating of the Madonna school of programming. And of course, this is merely another form of female emancipation. Or is it just the whore archetype projected as role model?

In the late 1990s up to 2003 Magazines such as “Nuts,” “Zoo,” “Bizarre,” “Loaded” “Guts” and many others were filling a marketable gap between soft and hard porn with accompanying stereotypical images, often positioned next to violence and death depicted from all four corners of the world. However, their appeal has waned, not perhaps due to their content, rather to the notion of accessibility: why buy a magazine when you can view it on your i-pad free? If we remember the previous summary of neurology and visual imagery contouring certain neural fields, we can see that this could be considered an important factor in the distortion of developing emotions and the emerging world views of children, notwithstanding the chemical components of addiction and early negative stereotyping.

The connection between abuse and the drastic change in accessibility of porn and its gradual mainstreaming into prime-time viewing is not necessarily the cause but it can be seen as an underlying shift in perception whereby children are encouraged to step into the cross-hairs of a premature, precocious sexuality. The role models both in fashion and MTV-Pop lifestyle offer a mix of what one writer bluntly called: “The Empowered Whore Archetype,”[1] and a stick-thin drug-chic lauded in the fashion industry. And on other hand we have the gym-pumped male who wears eye-liner, the uniform of gelled-hair and tattoos while seeking to emulate the myths of Don Juan promiscuity to match the new low standards that girls are encouraged to aspire.

Veteran journalist and feminist Joan Bakewell expressed her disquiet on this issue in a recent article:

“So what is there to complain about? It is the availability – indeed, the marketing – of such raunchy videos to the young and impressionable that disturbs me. Something has shifted in our culture to bring sub-teens within the orbit of suggestive sexual activity. T-shirts with cheeky, even lewd slogans – jokes that only adults can understand – are designed and sold to the under-10s. Children can hunt on a multitude of television channels for something that looks vaguely adult and vaguely transgressive. Can it be good for them?”

Set against a narcissistic culture, increasing abuse and acceptance of what is essentially, a psychopathic world-view – the answer has to be no. As Bakewell eloquently states, she was certainly at the forefront of sexual liberation in the 1960s, yet while this cultural shift pushed the boundaries of adult sexuality it bears little resemblance to the level of sexual imagery which bombards children and young adults on a daily basis. This amounts to an induction of pathologies where “traditional values” (without the baggage of conservative or religious connotations) are seen as “quaint” or passé.

The transition of Miley Cyrus as actress and girl-next-door role model, to the pop star-whore archetype is a particularly graphic example of the music industry’s manipulation of soft porn sensibilities marketed to the younger generation. Whether Ms. Cyrus thinks she is striking a blow for feminism or simply believes that this is indeed a suitable marketing coup to rake in the dollars, is anybody’s guess. For such a transformation to take place her producer (or pimp)  has clearly taken advantage of the emerging womanhood of Cyrus and exploited it to its fullest extent. The music standing on its own merit seems lost in yet another new phenomena of “twerking.”

Sex and music have always been joined at the hip. This time however, the sophistication of technology, has made it highly accessible (not least, musical content and often occult imagery – but that’s another subject ) which means that the lowest common denominator of instinct and gratuity is assimilated into the highly impressionable and emotional minds of the young 24/7.  Official Culture demands it. With no role models available to mitigate this onslaught and fused with so many other subtle addictions tweens and teens are exposed to highly charged imagery flooding the fives senses. Not only is this way too early but it is gratuitous to the point of complete saturation.

Alongside all this sexual hoopla and no doubt following on from trail of gratuitous-porn-gore-violence-set-to-motown-music so beloved of film director Quentin Tarantino, we have the massive popularity of the US TV drama series Dexter currently cleaning up on ratings and book sales. It tells the story of a forensic scientist by day and psychopathic killer by night, hacking and bludgeoning his way through various unsavoury characters who “deserve to die” no doubt acting as an entertaining catharsis for the millions who tune in. Of course, the character is sexy, funny, ostensibly caring and intelligent. He could be anyone of us. Is it merely the same re-enactment of serial killer voyeurism, or is there now an acceptance of the psychopath as somehow human and honourable if he takes out the dregs of humanity? And what message does this send to kids unconsciously grappling with the very real effects of psychopathy in our culture at large?

This inverted super-hero rides on the back of a glut of vampire, demons and werewolf movies and books aimed at teens and young adults. Evil hasn’t become just an anti-hero but the hero or heroine to root for.  The “good and evil” duality has all but disappeared to be replaced with “evil vs. evil” along with all the seductive trappings of black leather, buxom babes and steely-jawed sensitive males. The film Underworld (2003) about a beautiful gun-toting vampire who falls in love with a werewolf has the promotional catchphrase: “Which side will you choose?” The choice has become like so many elections the world over a choice between “the lesser of two evils” which in fact, is no choice at all.

So many disenfranchised youth on the streets of American cities are not finding meaning and purpose in the standard representation of family life plagued by socio-economic factors as well as the inevitable psychological dislocation which results. Instead many children and young adults gravitate towards gang culture which provides meaning and emotional belonging. However, many gangs require initiation tests of brutal violence and sometimes murder. Indeed, gang violence is one of the most pressing problems in both the UK, the US and Latin America. It indicates a spiritual vacuum in our youths that goes to the heart of Official Culture. Mixed messages in the representation of sexuality, emotions and the incessant focus on self-image and celebrity shapes the developing minds and bodies of the young. In turn, this will have a direct influence on their notion of morality, ethics and how they eventually perceive the world and their place in it.

Viewing explicit sexual imagery literally charges the blood. It is a bio-chemical “opiate”. After all, these are the chemicals that flow through our bodies that create liaisons, affairs, unions and marriages. The latter rituals are naturally very often doomed to failure precisely because of this false chemical romance. A frequent, early exposure to such visual stimulation in the child may in some cases a desensitisation which means a greater threshold of stimulation is required causing the desire to seek out material of a harder or more extreme quality. Increasing stimulation can lead to addiction whether child or adult. The former however, is more vulnerable to the power of such images due to the level of emotional immaturity and hormonal influences. The net result is an atrophying of the finer emotions and the ability to love in deference to power of instinct.

Former porn actress Shelley Lubben is an expert on the reality of the multi-billion dollar business. She even wrote a book about it called The Truth about the Fantasy Behind Porn – The Greatest Illusion on Earth which shatters the myth of glamour and sexual liberation that the industry and their models try to promote. Lubben believes that the porn industry frequently destroys lives and she is someone that is in the position to know.  She states: “I used to brag endlessly to fans and pornographers about how I loved making porn movies. I lied 100 percent of the time to 100 percent of the people.” [2]

Lubben has carefully researched some interesting statistics about the world of porn that has become so normalised in the 21st Century. On her website and her book we learn that:

  • 36 porn stars died that we know of from HIV, suicide, homicide and drugs between 2007 and 2010.
  • 66percent of porn performers have Herpes, a non-curable disease.
  • 2,396 cases of Chlamydia and 1,389 cases of Gonorrhea reported among performers since 2004.
  • Over 100 straight and gay performers died from AIDS.
  • 26 cases of HIV reported by Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM), since 2004.
  • 70percent of sexually transmitted infections in the porn industry occur in females according to County of Los Angeles Public Health.
  • Chlamydia and Gonorrhea among performers is 10x greater than that of LA County 20-24 year olds.
  • The largest group viewing online pornography is ages 12 to 17.
  • More than 11 million teens regularly view porn online.
  • There are 4.2 million pornographic websites, 420 million pornographic web pages, and 68 million daily search engine requests. [3]

A more lengthy extract from Lubben’s book is worth including here in case the reader is under any illusion at all as to the nature of the industry. Here, from the horse’s mouth:

“Many believe the widespread fairy-tale that women enjoy making porn movies but the truth is there are no happy endings for the women of porn. Women do NOT enjoy making porn movies and a closer behind-the-scenes look will show you several reasons why.

In the world of hardcore sex, an average day on the set for a porn actress is a long and tedious process. Women are told to come in around 8 am for makeup but it’s only to make sure porn actresses arrive on time to work. Porn stars have a nasty habit of arriving late because they’re often hung over from drugs or alcohol from the night before.

After make-up, porn actresses usually wait around long hours until it’s their turn to do their scene. Some scenes take an hour and some take several hours to film. It really depends if the male actor in the first scene could “perform” or not. It also depends if female actresses have to stop the clock because they can’t handle the pain of a hardcore sex scene.

While waiting around, jaded porn performers usually end up in the rest rooms with bottles of alcohol and lines of speed or outside in their cars for a heroin fix or gathered in the back yard with other actors to smoke marijuana.

To add to the mind-numbing process, women are never able to experience sexual pleasure because of the continuous cutting during sex scenes. In the background the director constantly yells, “cut” and the flow of action is interrupted in order to get a better shot, adjust lighting or to wipe up bodily fluids. Repeatedly pornographers stop scenes and ask actors to “freeze” in position during very hardcore sex acts, which causes great physical and emotional pain for porn actresses.

I speak from personal experience when I say to be in the middle of a hardcore sex act with several actors at the same time and told to “freeze” in position for several minutes while lighting or cameras are adjusted is extremely painful and degrading. It’s also very humiliating when scenes are stopped in order to wipe up bodily fluids such as semen, feces and blood.

Despite the fact women do not enjoy making porn movies, they continue to lie to their fans and proudly insist they enjoy making porn movies. Of course they do. They get paid hundreds and thousands of dollars to lie because this is their occupation. Porn stars are paid professional liars who know how to “act” and they do it well. In fact, because porn stars spend a great deal time in front of the camera and never step out of character, they usually have greater acting abilities than mainstream Hollywood actors.

I used to brag endlessly to fans and pornographers about my extreme “Italian” sex drive and how I loved making porn movies. I would go on and on about how I needed more and more to fulfill my insatiable appetite. I lied 100 percent of the time to 100 percent of the people. Lying is the native language of porn stars because they can’t afford to tell you the truth. Not only would it ruin the fantasy for their fans but more importantly, it would ruin the amount of their paychecks. Don’t believe porn actresses when they proudly proclaim they enjoy making porn movies. They’re ACTING.” [4]

Suicide Squad? Porn Stars Who Died Under Vague Circumstances


Notes

[1] ‘Makeover shows ‘increase desire for surgery’ Reuters, July 13 2006.
[2] Quoted in ‘Teens max out on plastic’ Phil Bartsch, Courier Mail, May 01, 2006.
[3] Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Research Statistics and Trends for 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
[4] Hyaluronic acid (also called Hyaluronan) is a component of connective tissue whose function is to cushion and lubricate. It has since been synthesized and marketed on this basis as a sort of “key to the fountain of Youth” and a remedy for premature ageing. The resultant gel is injected into the face to smooth lines, wrinkles, and scars on the skin.
[5] ‘Want a booty like J. Lo’s? With buttock-boosting surgery, it can be yours’ By E.J. Mundell, MSNBC Feb. 18, 2004.
[6] US physicians and surgeons survey by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 2004 (ASAPS).
[7] ‘Teenagers go under knife to beat bullies’ By Richard Gray, Scotland on Sunday, July 9, 2006.
[8] ‘Teens Getting Breast Implants for Graduation’ By Susan Kreimer, Women’s eNews. June 30, 2004.
[9] ‘Plastic surgery booms in Singapore’IOL South Africa, April 25 2006.
[10] Grow-your-own breast implants on the way’ by Sophie Goodchild, The Independent, March 28, 2005.[11] ‘Stress “fuelling early puberty’ BBC News, 7 February, 2006. “Children’s bodies are maturing faster unhealthy lifestyles and unstable family environments may be contributing to a fall in the age that girls reach puberty, research suggests.”
[11] ‘The “Empowered” Whore Archetype Destroying the Feminine’ by Thomas Sheridan thomassheridanarts.blogspot.com Sat, 22 Oct 2011.
[12] http://www.shellylubben.com
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.

Virtuality

 By M.K. Styllinski

Worldskin-01

World Skin (1997), Maurice Benayoun‘s virtual reality interactive installation | (wikipedia)

“There is a new world order and our children are carrying it around in their pockets.”

Beeban Kidron


“There is in every child at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding.” So, said the psychologist Erik Erickson. This extraordinary neurological development used to be facilitated and encouraged by the art of storytelling which allowed archetypes and mythological motifs to be gently assimilated into the mind of the child, so that this process could begin from an emotionally nourished foundation. Television as a primary tool of the advertiser helped to replace this deeply-rooted tradition.

A study conducted by the cable television industry in February 1996 found that 57 per cent of television programmes contain “psychologically harmful” violence. The findings, the largest profiling of its kind, were taken from over 2,500 hours of television programming, carefully tracked and analysed. These research findings did not necessarily suggest that children could act more violently but that it could contribute to conditions whereby violence is seen as a normal part of life. By the age of 18, the average American child will have seen 200,000 murders on television [1] and since there is at least ten times as much crime on television and increasingly the internet as there is in the real world, this helps to create a rather skewed picture of the expectations of what life has to offer. [2]

By the time 2013 came around peer-reviewed studies were finding further negative effects of overexposure to television. A study undertaken by the University of Montreal, Canada, by Linda S. Pagani, Caroline Fitzpatrick & Tracie A. Barnett was published in Pediatric Research and the scientific journal Nature. The report entitled: ‘Early childhood television viewing and kindergarten entry readiness’ amassed data from a prospective longitudinal cohort of 991 girls and 1,006 boys and was analysed for the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. The parent-reported data was collected from weekly hours of tele-viewing starting at about 2 and half years of age. Children were then scored “… on direct child assessments of vocabulary, mathematical knowledge, and motor skills, as well as kindergarten teacher reports of socio-emotional functioning…”

The research team’s results showed that watching television at 2.5 years: “… were associated with subsequent decreases in vocabulary and math skills, classroom engagement (which is largely determined by attention skills), victimization by classmates, and physical prowess at kindergarten.” The conclusions further suggested: “… the need for better parental awareness and compliance with existing viewing recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).”

Childhood obesity, apathy, passivity, compliance, earlier sexual activity, attention deficit, impaired cognitive ability, hyperactivity, depression and aggression are all increasing in children. Television is could well be contributing to this global malaise. [3] It is not difficult to see why the child’s ability to actually learn is impaired. It is not the quantity of programmes that is at fault, but the quality. Given that the quality of television is tied to the market place, then it stands to reason that television will project these ways of being straight into the waiting brains of the young. Children aged 6 to 8 now respond to the image of a television as alcoholics do to images of drink. [4]

Though a contributory factor, it is not the content of the programming that is doing the damage. The child’s brain is under attack from a deluge of images at the precise time that the mind/brain matrix is attempting to build neural fields that are healthy and stable, with images sourced from within rather than implanted by negative anxiety and adrenalin-drenched images from without. Quick camera switches, rapid image movement, computer generated objects, computer generated morphing and other technological stimuli are called “jolts” or “technical events” which induce the hormonal “fight or flight” response  together with the accompanying adrenal rush. [5] It is an addictive habit that forces the mind to latch onto firm ground that is forever being snatched away. This mind/body addiction means a near catatonic state; the glassy-eyed child fixed to the induction of alpha waves, ensures a hypnotizing effect that is most damaging to the neural circuits still being formed in small children. With these artificial images comes a habitually false sense of reality which becomes hardwired as author and scientist Joseph Chiltern Pearce explains:

Television feeds both the stimulus and response into the infant-child’s brain as a single-paired effect and herein lays the danger. Television floods the brain with a counterfeit of the response of the brain is supposed to learn to make to the stimuli of words or music. As a result much structural coupling between mind and environment is eliminated; few metaphoric images develop; few higher cortical areas of the brain are called into play; few, if any symbolic structures develop. [6]

Divorced from a measured and contextual response, the media plays its part in shovelling on fear and insecurity, pumping international horrors into our living rooms and already tired minds. There is always a variety of ways that consumer culture can allow you to buy back that security, however fleeting. Instinctual sex and violence ensures a “dumbed down” populace while ensuring ratings increases more of the same. In other words:

Since there is no way to stop the images, one merely gives over to them. More than this, one has to clear all channels of reception to allow them in more cleanly. Thinking only gets in the way.” […]  Every advertiser, for example, knows that before you can convince anyone of anything, you shatter their existing mental set and then restructure awareness along lines which are useful to you. You do this with a few very simple techniques like fast-moving images, jumping among attention focuses, and switching moods… [7] [Emphasis mine]

Our potential brain becomes imprisoned by the lower limbic brain and is sedated by the habitual and familiar: it is safe, comfortable, passive and devoid of the subtle nuances of creativity. Drop in doses of random violence and meaningless sex into the pliable mind of the child and a progressive normalisation of a pathological world view begins to take place. The child’s highly emotional mind ensures an easy state for conditioning. It is literally contoured towards states of acceptance. Babies and toddlers are unconsciously shocked into submission and programmed into mediocrity even before they can rationalize and conceptualise. Whether they will be able to think critically and discern truth from fiction later in life in combination with other environmental factors, is the key question.

The mass programming of movies, magazines, gaming and the integration of the internet and T.V. cannot by themselves, be considered threatening to the psychology of children and young adults. It is unlikely for example, that playing extremely violent, hyper-realistic, computer games such as Grand Theft Auto or Mortal Kombat is going to cause irreversible damage if they played occasionally. However, taken together and with the emphasis on the type of content being absorbed, one can make such a statement with assurance. At the age children begin to play video games they have not sufficiently developed the ability to distinguish between what is reality and what is not. These forms of mind stimulation make sure that, as adults, our focus lies in the realm of subjectivity rather than objectivity while all the time we believe the reverse.

The average American absorbs 34 GB of information a day, though half of it is obtained from playing video games. [8] It is little wonder that such games are coming under repeated suspicion when we read the following reviews from online gaming sites: “Hit man: Blood Money delivers the most brutal and realistic simulation of life as the world’s deadliest assassin.” In this game you must eliminate your opponents using a variety of weapons and killing techniques. One scene depicts a basement shootout where several busty, bronzed, bikini-clad maidens must be summarily blown away to progress to the next level. In the opening start-page one can see the hit man holding one of these aforementioned women by the throat with the implication that he intends to use her as a shield. You can imagine what follows.

Another game describes a futuristic battle where: “…three nations with opposing political views have erupted in an all-out war. From the cockpit of a giant metal ‘HOUND’, you must power your tower of heavy artillery through giant war zones while backing five others on your squad and dodging the firepower of six other live players via Xbox Live.” And further: “In Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter you can play as a Ghost, the best trained and equipped soldier the US Army has to offer. The year is 2013 and an insurgency has broken out in Mexico City, and it is your job to infiltrate the city and attempt to restore order.” That of course, means wiping out as many folks as you can. Or if a more gory enterprise is more to your taste: “Ninety-Nine Nights is a pure hack-and-slasher, brought to you by both Mizuguchi’s Q!” There is no limit to the number of weapons you can conjure and use nor the amount and variety of people you can kill. No irritating shades of grey here.

What about some good old fashioned propaganda? You need not look far for a double helping of “fun” in the guise of FA-18 Operation Desert Storm where, as an intrepid US pilot in the Allied Coalition, you must fly your FA-18 Hornet across enemy lines to bring down Iraqi forces for the ultimate glory that was Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Gulf war. Then there is Conflict: Desert Storm II Back to Baghdad where one on-line reviewer seemed to epitomize the dissociation involved with the reality of war versus the de-sensitization of real life:

“… there’s one thing that makes Conflict Desert Storm so engaging, and that’s the feeling you get when you’re all alone, your companions’ dead bodies scattered all around you, hiding behind a couple of clay pots to avoid the tank that’s just feet away. Finding yourself in this position just illustrates the sense of loneliness on the battle-field as you have no one to watch your back and success from this point becomes even more rewarding. The fine line is, that Conflict Desert Storm is simply better than any other war game that I’ve ever played and well worth the 10 quid that I paid for it…”

One wonders what the dead US soldiers and the millions of dead and mutilated Iraqi civilians would say to such “entertainment.” Such is the price of suffering that is reduced to teenage computer games and a “ten quid” tension ride.

Is there really such a difference between the programming of “Shock and Awe” pop video coverage courtesy of Fox T.V. and the gaming consoles in most American and European homes? If you were thinking that “Shock and Awe” sounded like a perfect computer game title then it will come as no surprise that the company’s US computer game office asked the Patent Office to let them register the words as a trademark. Sony backed down from plans to use the phrase as a title for its game about the war with Iraq due to customer and gamers distaste at such a move, especially as the patent was applied for only one day after the war started.

The studies that found violent video games had long-term, detrimental effects were given a further boost of credibility when in 2001, Japanese Professor Ryuta Kawashima, a brain imaging specialist, decided to investigate the levels of brain activity in children playing video games. He was hoping that his research would benefit the gaming world, thus possibilities for his own funding. His findings however, did not please the games manufacturers. The professor was convinced that children who play computer and video games excessively will not develop their frontal lobes and may therefore be more prone to act more violently as they grow up. [9]

As well as a clear correlation between watching violent video games and increased aggression, poor academic performance has also been repeatedly found to be a consistent result of prolonged gaming. [10]  In a world of apps and i-phones these effects are beginning to reach deeper into the young and are causing concern from a number of scientists and academics.

Maryanne Wolf, an author and cognitive neuroscientist at Tufts University in Massachusetts quoted in a September 2010 Guardian piece states: “It takes time to think deeply about information and we are becoming accustomed to moving on to the next distraction. I worry that the circuits that give us deep reading abilities will atrophy in adults and not be properly formed in the young.” The New York Time’s Nick Bilton reported on The UK Millennium Cohort Study in his March 31st article of 2013: ‘The Child, the Tablet and the Developing Mind.’ The study, which had been following 19,000 children born in 2000 and 2001 published a report in in the same year and found that children who watched more than three hours of television or DVDs a day “… had a higher chance of behavioural problems, emotional symptoms and relationship problems by the time they were 7 than children who did not. The study, of a sample of 11,000 children, found that children who played video games — often age-appropriate games — for the same amount of time did not show any signs of negative behavioral changes by the same age.”

So, it seems it is the quality and content and exposure time to these types of technology that is the issue.

Digitale-DemenzIn Europe, German neuropsychiatrist Dr. Manfred Spitzer has shown in his book Digitale Demenz (Digital Dementia – 2012) that when young children are exposed to too much computer-based activities their brain development suffers resulting in irreversible deformations. [11] Though not the first to investigate the effects of computers and software on young brains, his findings have drawn considerable criticism, not for the science it seems, but for the heresy of pointing out substantial drawbacks in the perceived perfection of a new technology that is currently re-shaping lives.

Researchers in 2005 also found a new perceptual effect they labelled “attentional rubber-necking” which appears to mimic the “jolts” and “shocks” we have from the dynamics of visual pollution. The Vanderbilt and Yale University study found that when people are exposed to erotic or violent images they often fail to fully process what they see immediately after. [12] It seems the mind’s capacity to absorb information – and perhaps crucial data – can switch off like a light bulb in a darkened room, or in the researchers words, an “emotion-induced blindness.” New research also suggests that young adult brains continue to be malleable to new thoughts and ideas (especially when fused with a highly emotional content) up until age 18 and beyond, though the areas of the brain affected tend to change.

The organizing and re-integrating of new sensory information via this technology shows such a “synthesis helps shape the kinds of emotional and behavioural responses [children] have to new experiences.” [13] It is these experiences that dictate exactly how a personality and its brain responds and perceives the outer world and whether it attains a creative or entropic response. How can an individual learn to understand himself and his psychological “wounds” if he is distracted and buffered by chemical inducing technology; where feelings, thoughts and dreams are fused with artifice?

The merging of official culture with new forms of technological addiction seems assured. Evelyn Pringle, writing for online journal Counterpunch in April 2010 revealed more information regarding the experiments in the effects of technology on children in her widely quoted report: ‘The Psychiatric Drugging of Infants and Toddlers.’ In 2010, the University of Maryland conducted an experiment named “Unplugged.” Researchers asked 200 undergraduates to stop using all internet and cell phone technology for one day and to keep a diary of how they were feeling. Many of the students reported symptoms of dependency and addiction. The University of Maryland concluded that: “Most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable, to be without their media links to the world.” This means that similar studies are unlikely to attract the participants needed for further evaluations.

Research quoted by Newsweek’s Tony Dokoupil in his in-depth July 2012 report: ‘Is the Web Driving Us Mad?’ is also instructive.  He introduces Professor Gary Small, the head of UCLA’s Memory and Aging Research Center, who, in 2008, proved conclusively that changes in the brain occurred even with moderate Internet use. 24 people were used in the study half of which were experienced internet users and the others very green. While the green users were normal, the veteran users’ brains were scanned and found to have “fundamental” alterations in the prefrontal cortexes. Then, each of the newbie participants were instructed to spend five hours online and then scanned again. A definite “re-wiring” of their brains had taken place.  More from Dokoupil’s research presently.

The latest technological appendages that we and especially children cannot do without are the i-phones, i-pads and tablets. The new diagnosis of i-phone addiction disorder is starting to do the rounds. Journalist Evelyn Pringle further highlights cases from Taiwan involving one:

 “… high-school boy who ended up in an asylum after his iPhone usage reached 24 hours a day. The other [case] featured a 31-year-old saleswoman who used her phone while driving. Both cases might have been laughed off if not for a 200-person Stanford study of iPhone habits released at the same time. It found that one in 10 users feels ‘fully addicted’ to his or her phone. All but 6 percent of the sample admitted some level of compulsion, while 3 percent won’t let anyone else touch their phones.”

Meanwhile, the UK Telegraph ran a report from 2013 By Victoria Ward, entitled: ‘Toddlers becoming so addicted to iPads they require therapy.’ As the title suggested toddlers are fast becoming addicted to i-pads and tablets as a result of lazy parenting and a symptom of a laissez-faire attitude to technology in general. Many medical experts are concerned that: “… parents who allow babies and toddlers to access tablet computers for several hours a day are in danger of causing ‘dangerous’ long term effects,” The report stated. It went on to describe the case of a four-year-old girl from the South East of England who is the youngest known patient being treated in the UK. Dr Richard Graham, who launched the UK’s first technology addiction programme in 2010 is seeing an increasing number of children displaying symptoms of severe addiction in relation to i-pads and internet-based technology. A 28-day “digital detox” programme is offered to desperate parents at the Capio Nightingale Hospital in London. He told the Telegraph that:  “… young technology addicts experienced the same withdrawal symptoms as alcoholics or heroin addicts, when the devices were taken away. He warned that the condition prevented young people from forming normal social relationships, leaving them drained by the constant interaction.”

But as baby-proof iPad covers and iPotties flood the market of convenience it seems this particular addiction will provide another market for healing and drug prescription.

Over in the United States Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is distributing tablets along with suitable curricula to college students. Part of the Department of Education and Common Core education initiative, it promises to lock children into a monolithic, centralised screen-based education with very little participation from parents and educators. Since children spend most of their days locked into their laptops, i-phones and computer games now they’ll be spending the rest of their waking hours staring into a computer screen studying a curriculum they already had little interest in.

Founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology EdX, a nonprofit enterprise offers online courses using automated software and artificial intelligence to grade student essays and other written answers. As the New York Time’s John Markoff, describes it in his piece: ‘Essay-Grading Software Offers Professors a Break’: “Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the “send” button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program. And then, instead of being done with that exam, imagine that the system would immediately let you rewrite the test to try to improve your grade.” The idea is to free up more time for college and University professors. That efficiency meme again…

Though many educators and academics loathe the idea and are resisting its implementation it seems inevitable that such automation in education will become the norm in a system that prides itself on technocratic principles rather than the needs of the child. ‘The Epidemic of Media Multi-tasking while learning’, by Annie Murphy Paul posted in May of 2013 to education/tech site http://www.navigator.compasslearning.com explored this very subject. It reached some disturbing conclusions, namely the erosion of student’s focus and attention through excessive multi-tasking.

Researchers from the lab of Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills followed students as they went about their onerous studying and where he and his colleagues “… counted the number of windows open on the students’ screens and noted whether the students were wearing ear-buds.”

While ticking boxes on a check-list which included: “reading a book, writing on paper, typing on the computer—and also using email, looking at Facebook, engaging in instant messaging, texting, talking on the phone, watching television, listening to music, surfing the web.” It seems that students’ “on-task behavior” began to decline at after only two minutes choosing to respond to text messages or checking Facebook. Only 65 percent of the observation period was spent doing homework. Rosen stated: “We were amazed at how frequently they multitasked, even though they knew someone was watching. It really seems that they could not go for 15 minutes without engaging their devices,” adding, “It was kind of scary, actually.”

Unlike radio, the T.V., – and by extension, the internet – by replacing storytelling and other shared activities, may have paradoxically contributed to the loss of societal communication and cohesion. Eventually, this has devalued play in all its forms, eroded parenting skills, even inducing ignorance towards the idea of parenting itself. The internet is certainly an extraordinary tool for knowledge, information and social exchange, but naturally, it has a dark side which can be forgotten in the rush to embrace it.

From Tony Dokoupil’s Newsweek article, he usefully summarises the rate of change and some of its effects:

In less than the span of a single childhood, Americans have merged with their machines, staring at a screen for at least eight hours a day, more time than we spend on any other activity including sleeping. Teens fit some seven hours of screen time into the average school day; 11, if you count time spent multitasking on several devices. When President Obama last ran for office, the iPhone had yet to be launched. Now smartphones outnumber the old models in America, and more than a third of users get online before getting out of bed.

Meanwhile, texting has become like blinking: the average person, regardless of age, sends or receives about 400 texts a month, four times the 2007 number. The average teen processes an astounding 3,700 texts a month, double the 2007 figure. And more than two thirds of these normal, everyday cyborgs, myself included, report feeling their phone vibrate when in fact nothing is happening. Researchers call it “phantom-vibration syndrome.”

Dukoupil reported on the latest peer-reviewed research and other common findings which could only be seen as a slap in the face of internet utopians. He further stated: “The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.”

Newsweek conducted its own research reviewing findings from over a dozen countries all of which are following the same trajectory of addiction with their attendant negative effects. These include depression, reactive psychosis, anxiety, and the common rise in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The latter is linked to internet and i-phone addiction after studies reported by journalists Alan Schwartz and Sarah Cohen in a New York Times article of March 2013: ‘A.D.H.D. Seen in 11% of U.S. Children as Diagnoses Rise’ confirmed nearly one in five high school age boys and 11 percent of school-age children in general have received a medical diagnosis of ADHD. This is what the data revealed after a 53 percent rise in the condition in just a decade. Is there a link? Many believe so. Which makes a very lucrative case for Big Pharma, since all these children need to be medicalised, it seems.

It is no coincidence that also in the last decade the number of children less than a year old receiving medication has sky-rocketed in the United States. Diagnoses of bipolar disorder has also doubled over the last decade according to a Reuters report. Journalist by Evelyn Pringle writing for the previously mentioned 2010 Counterpunch article observed: “Of antipsychotic-treated children in the 2007 study sample, [from Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry] the most common diagnoses were pervasive developmental disorder or mental retardation (28.2%), ADHD (23.7%), and disruptive behavior disorder (12.9%).

In one sense, all of us who use computers are made addicts since the average person spends more than 38 hours online due to the rapidly changing nature of technology tied to the workplace. The child however, is in the front line of this neurological change.

With a diet of gratuitous violence – whether comic book or ultra-realism – the child is habituated to a glut of sensation and the neurological stunting that eventuates. Anything less than this is “boring”. A spiritual vacuum condemns our future adults to a “filthy tide” of cheap thrills and superficiality wrapped in soft quilts of technical addiction. The damaged care for the damaged and perpetuate the legacy. Notwithstanding the background link of 18 Certificate computer gaming in most of the US shooting massacres of recent times, the ubiquitous and increasing levels of extreme violence and destruction classed as entertainment on our TVs and in our cinemas is deeply concerning.

When combined with the rise of SMART society and social media it can only exacerbate an already violence-saturated culture. However, the key to reducing this incursion seems to lie in the quality and content of the internet and video games and the type of technology to which we expose our children.

In writer Eli Khamarov’s words: “Most people are awaiting Virtual Reality; I’m awaiting virtuous reality.”

 


Notes

[1] Robert E. Hales, The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry (2008) p. 1472.
[2] ‘Development of a Cognitive Process Model to Explain the Effects of Heavy Television Viewing on Social Judgment’ L. J. Shrum, Rutgers University | http://www.acrwebsite.org/search/view-conference-proceedings.aspx?Id=8172
[3] Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (Vol 159, p 607, p 614, p 619, p 687) quoted from NewScientist.com news service ‘Watching TV harms kids’ academic success’ by Anna Gosline July 4, 2005.
[4] “Lure of Television is stronger than a smile” by David Lister, The Times, November 7, 2006: “Previous research into the behaviour of young children and babies has shown that they prefer to look at faces and do so instinctively in order to learn and to communicate. This was borne out by an initial experiment on 34 five-year-olds, 25 eight-year-olds and 34 adults, in which they were each shown a photograph of a face alongside either a doll’s house, a toy boat, a toy train, a tap, a teapot or a wall clock. The overwhelming majority looked at the image of a face before the competing object.In a second experiment, however, 143 children aged 5 to 8 were seated in front of a computer screen on which the image of a blank television screen was shown next to a face for less than a second. The children were told to press the spacebar as soon as they saw a bar of chocolate appear on the screen. Most of the children aged 6 to 8 pressed the spacebar fastest when the chocolate bar appeared behind the picture of the television and not the face, suggesting that they were already looking at it. Only the five-year-olds responded fastest when the chocolate was behind the face. Martin Doherty, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Stirling, who carried out the research with Dr Bindemann, said: ‘One of the interesting things is that five-year-olds still have a face bias but six-year-olds don’t.’”
[5] Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander, published by William Morrow, 1978 | ISBN: 0688082742.
[6] p.166; Evolutions End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence By Joseph Chiltern Pearce Published by HarperCollins 1992, ISBN 0-06-250693-5.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Part of the Daily American Diet, 34 Gigabytes of Data’ By Nick Bilton, The New York Times, December 9, 2009.
[9] ‘Heavy Video Game Use by Kids May slow Brain Development – Game industry disputes findings of Japanese study’ – The Observer August 19, 2001.
[10] Video games ‘increase aggression’, 23 April, 2000, BBC News.
[11] Digitale Demenz: Wie wir uns und unsere Kinder um den Verstand bringen By Manfred Spitzer. (only in German at the time of writing.)
[12] ‘Researchers explore a perceptual effect called ‘attentional rubbernecking’ by Melanie Moran, August 2005 Vanderbilt University, Nashville USA.
[13] ‘Brains of Young Adults Not Fully Mature’ By Ker Than http://www.livescience.com February, 2006.

The Rise of Narcissism and the Loss of Meaning II

“As individuals and as a nation, we now suffer from social narcissism. The beloved Echo of our ancestors, the virgin America, has been abandoned. We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves.”

– Daniel J. Boorstin


Individualism does not have to be selfish and uncooperative. On the contrary, individual integrity while communing with the whole is what being human is all about. Whereas conforming to a bland, homogenous consensus of selfish dictates that defines so much of economic and cultural discourse is one sure way to lose one’s conception of self. What society seems to be growing is an unhealthy and destructive self-obsession that is rapidly normalised as a symptom of a “dog-eat-dog” world. To “be someone” means that we have to play the game and it is a one that gradually brainwashes you into thinking that this is what you do – for the rest of your life: be one of the herd or be an outsider that attains “success.”  Yet, perhaps those two avenues are really just the same? What does it mean to groove oneself into a routine of 9-5, TV, weekend peace and family life with barely the time to think? What of that desire to have wealth, status and to be adored? The latter is directly mirroring the Establishment perception made up of corporate leaders, politicians, members of the monarchy and endless TV shows like X-factor and American Idol that tell us if you are not wealthy and do not have power and influence, you do not exist – you have no significance.

You must conform to the idea of success and love as defined by our culture. In effect, your we do not have the time, space or energy to truly shape our own identity outside the bubble of cultural dynamics within which we are immersed. Urban life and present technology is only reinforcing that largely unconscious existential crisis.

It is a tired cliché that success does not define individual integrity any more than integrity can define the type and quality of that success. To have personal integrity automatically places value on the type of success you wish to attract and pursue.  Which is perhaps why, despite the obvious material advances for many, we are not getting happier. This is especially true for young women. As we get more unhappy, yet more affluent the unhappiness becomes a form of aggressive entitlement for material acquisition, status and the ease and comfort this provides. No one wants to be a pauper either but there appears to be a serious displacement of core needs lying deep within societies; a spiritual yearning that is not only being ignored but actively subverted.

In 1999 a comprehensive study was carried out in the UK on the incidence of: “…common mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks and anhedonia (loss of capacity to experience pleasure). The results showed an increase in these disorders with a significant increase for girls from 19 percent to 32 percent. But the latest sets of results are even more dramatic. There has been an increase for both sexes: boys are now on 21 percent, and girls are at a staggering rate of 44 percent.” [1] Reasons for such a change left most social scientists and psychologists floundering ranging from: “… declines in family life, rises in inequality or reductions in social cohesion.” However, all of those factors seemed to be the effects rather than the cause.

Enter American Psychologist Jean Twenge: “…whose most recent work has been to analyse what she describes as a ‘narcissism epidemic’ in the US that is disproportionately affecting women. Her meta-analysis covered 37,000 college students. It found that in 1982, 15 percent got high scores on a narcissism personality index; by 2006 it was 25 percent – and the largest share of this increase was women.” And further: “…in the 1950s only 12 percent of college students agreed that ‘I am an important person’, but by the late 80s it was 80 percent. In 1967, only 45 percent agreed that ‘being well-off is an important life goal’, but by 2004 the figure was 74 percent.” [2]

Twenge and W. Keith Campbell’s findings are included in their 2009 book: Living in the Age of Entitlement: The Narcissism Epidemic that describes  that: we are living through the results of something very rotten indeed being expressed with increasingly alacrity through the minds of the young. They reveal that: “Nearly 1 out of 10 of Americans in their twenties, and 1 out of 16 of those of all ages, has experienced the symptoms of NPD. Even these shocking numbers are just the tip of the iceberg; lurking underneath is the narcissistic culture that has drawn in many more. The narcissism epidemic has spread to the culture as a whole, affecting both narcissistic and less self-centred people.” [3]

Authors Twenge and Campbell paint a picture of Western culture in dire need of a sense of meaning and purpose away from the thrall of artifice:

On a reality TV show, a girl planning her sixteenth birthday party wants a major road blocked off so a marching band can precede her grand entrance on a red carpet. A book called “My Beautiful Mommy” explains plastic surgery to young children whose mothers are going under the knife for the trendy “Mommy Makeover.” It is now possible to hire fake paparazzi to follow you around snapping your photograph when you go out at night — you can even take home a faux celebrity magazine cover featuring the pictures.

A popular song declares, with no apparent sarcasm, “I believe that the world should revolve around me!” People buy expensive homes with loans far beyond their ability to pay — or at least they did until the mortgage market collapsed as a result. Babies wear bibs embroidered with “Supermodel” or “Chick Magnet” and suck on “Bling” pacifiers while their parents read modernized nursery rhymes from This Little Piggy Went to Prada. People strive to create a “personal brand” (also called “self-branding”), packaging themselves like a product to be sold. Ads for financial services proclaim that retirement helps you return to childhood and pursue your dreams. High school students pummel classmates and then seek attention for their violence by posting YouTube videos of the beatings.

Although these seem like a random collection of current trends, all are rooted in a single underlying shift in the American psychology: the relentless rise of narcissism in our culture. Not only are there more narcissists than ever, but non-narcissistic people are seduced by the increasing emphasis on material wealth, physical appearance, celebrity worship, and attention seeking. Standards have shifted, sucking otherwise humble people into the vortex of granite countertops, tricked-out MySpace pages, and plastic surgery. A popular dance track repeats the words: ‘success, fame, glamour” over and over, declaring that all other values has “either been discredited or destroyed.[4]

An important point is made in the introduction that “Narcissism is a psycho-cultural affliction rather than a physical disease, but the model fits remarkably well.” Indeed it does. This understanding is vital for comprehending the depth to which psychopathy has filtered down from the top after similarly infecting the centres of power within all institutions, something we will explore in depth. For now, what do the authors consider to be the causes?

Twenge and other psychologists believe one of the primary drivers is parenting supported by the competitive world of the consumer market. Aside from the mass-market entertainment industry that thrives on narcissistic themes, the constant drip-drip of pathologies in both public and private institutions and governing bodies which are preventing alternative and more integrative frameworks from appearing. Meantime, parents and teachers will inevitably pass on learned behaviour and unconscious narcissistic traits.

Benczur-narcissus

Narcissus by Gyula Benczúr

The very nature of parenting in British and American societies will be fraught with difficulties. The happy, well-adjusted and emotionally nourished child seems to be disappearing. Due to the emotional osmosis that occurs from the womb to the formative years and beyond, parental influence deeply imprints the child’s emerging personality. If the parents have any number of unconscious fears or unresolved character deformations they will certainly appear in their offspring to a greater or lesser degree. The modifying properties will be dependent on the child’s inherent will, strength and spiritual capacities to overcome such influences and forge his own unique destiny. As s/he proceeds through schooling these parental influences will rage for dominance in the mind until such time as developmental thresholds are surmounted and integrated. If not, then the personality health is held back by a number of traumas, large or small, that nevertheless have a direct connection to early childhood parental influence. These internal and external influences meet and cause all kinds of fears, insecurities, anxieties and confusion to manifest along with the atrophying of natural emotional development. By fourteen or fifteen it will be evident that a fully-rounded out individual who is able to make his or her way in the world is not present, or if it is, it is the narcissistic false personality that is empty within and sporadically capable without. His parental pathologies, minor or major, now mix with his own to create the false image and the commensurate pain and suffering that ensues to keep that façade alive.

Clinical psychology 101 will tell us that the absence of self-awareness and blind-spots in the parents regarding their own fears and neuroses, emotional traumas of the past and present will seed themselves in the new-born as unconsciously learned behaviours. It is vital that would-be parents seeking the best for their unborn child understand that the only way to reduce the danger of one’s child developing a narcissistic personality disorder in our present times, is for them to embark on a process of self-knowledge and self-awareness prior to the birth so that unresolved psychological “blockages” or underlying disorders are recognised and a method of healing initiated.  If the parents can reduce the level of problems within and mitigate their transference to the arriving child, perhaps this is the greatest parental gift one can give to an emerging soul.

Why is it that we are seeing serious personality disorders in teenagers and young adults that seem to come from families with no presence of overt abuse? The above describes a new form of dysfunction that is quite different to the overt emotional, physical/sexual abuse that can occur within the family environment. What we have here is a type of parental position within the family that confers a covert-narcissism, where the needs of the parents take precedent of the needs of the child or children which is sacrificed for the good of “family appearances.” This is a largely unconscious dynamic on the part of the parents (or single parent) and usually occurs sometime during the developmental stage of differentiation between child and adult i.e. when the child begins to assert his identity and seeks to become individual.

What is interesting is that the needs of the child within these types of families are certainly met when they are babies or toddlers. As s/he grows up a more skilful parenting based on self-knowledge is required and when the true nature of the relationship becomes known. Psychologists Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman and Robert M. Pressman describe the process:

As the child’s psychological needs become more of a factor in the life of the family, the narcissistic family truly develops. The parent system is unable to adapt to meet the child’s needs, and the child, in order to survive, must be the one to adapt. The inversion process starts: the responsibility for meeting needs gradually shifts from the parent to the child. Whereas in infancy the parents may have met the needs of the child, now the child is more and more attempting to meet the needs of the parent, for only in this way can the child gain attention, acceptance, and approval….the needs of children, especially the emotional needs, increase geometrically as their tractability decreases. [5]

A host of reasons from the parents’ point of view can interfere with this process where their own needs – due to stress, mental illness, work demands etc. – are placed before the needs of their child. This largely refers to emotional nourishment rather than material demands. As the child feels misunderstood and neglected he begins to draw attention to the fact and a battle is set in motion between the parents’ needs and the child with the result that in sometimes subtle ways affection and attention are withheld so that the child is forced to confront his own emotional confusion. This means the child’s emotional needs go unattended and his independence and opportunity to learn about himself and the process at work is denied. He waits and reacts to parental expectations which relates to passivity and reaction rather than an emerging healthy independence. This breeds dependency and insecurity based on the reflection of the parents’ needs and expectations rather than his own.

This frustrated need for validation becomes a driving force in all external relations along with an undercurrent of anger and unhappiness leading to depression, chronic dissatisfaction, poor self-esteem and lack of confidence. As he sought to find his true personality the absence of an emotional foundation comes back to haunt him as indecisiveness and indecision due to an over-reliance on external cues and with no role-models to show him the way forward. If others’ needs and expectations have taken over his own then it is those to which he will identify, further eroding his sense of self. The net result of all this is the loss of the child’s true identity and the appropriation of a number of pathologies, the most common of which is overt narcissism.

The only way forward for such an individual is via acceptance and responsibility. Acceptance arrives when he understands that what happened was beyond his control and the chance to take responsibility for your his own psychological health. Most of all: forgiveness. Parents are immersed in the same world as their children and they are victims of the same to varying degrees. But victim-hood, as we will discover, must not become an escape from reality or an excuse to repeat the same patterns. The only way to break the hold of narcissistic tendencies and pathologies in the world at large is to heal our emotions and accrue knowledge of their presence in ourselves and our environment. Without this will to heal, we all become “preformatted” to fit into the emerging narcissistic culture. The factors leading to parental ignorance of these matters derive from the pathologies we have looked at previously and will go into greater depth as we continue.

What is perhaps even more disturbing is the twist on reality dispensed by the American Psychological Association who believes that because narcissism has become so ubiquitous it should be re-evaluated as a personality disorder.

Andrew E. Skodol, MD, chair of the DSM-5’s personality disorder work group and a psychiatry professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine believes: “There is a fair amount of literature suggesting that narcissism is a dimension varying amongst people and across disorders,” and: “not necessarily a disorder in and of itself.” Yet according to Thomas Arthur Widiger, PhD, a University of Kentucky psychology professor who served on the DSM-5’s research planning committee the new decision was not “… based on a systematic or objective review of the data and, if implemented, would have a chilling effect on personality disorder research.” Widiger is unequivocal as to the result of such a ruling: “By turning narcissistic personality disorder into a list of traits that will lack official coding within a medical record, you are essentially relegating it to a sidebar that will unlikely draw much research or diagnostic interest.” [6]

Many psychiatrists and psychologists concur as it will play right into the hands of further pathologies arising like building blocks on the firm foundations of normalised narcissism.

What if extreme entitlement and exploitation of others makes these individuals more likely to extreme forms of rage, aggression and violence against innocent people even in the absence of provocation? In fact, recent scholarship has identified this probability in narcissists along with some researchers suggesting that pathological narcissism may actually be psychopathy: “…when egocentricity, lack of empathy, and sense of superiority of the narcissist blends with the impulsivity, deceitfulness, and criminal tendencies of the antisocial, the result is a psychopathic individual who seeks gratification of selfish impulses through any means without remorse or empathy.”  [7]

 


Notes

[1] ‘The narcissism of consumer society has left women unhappier than ever’ by Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, July 26, 2009.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Living in the Age of Entitlement: The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean M. Twenge PhD and W. Keith Campbell PhD. Published by Free Press, 2009.
[4] op. cit. Twenge, Campbell, (p.1)
[5] The Narcissitic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman and Robert M. Pressman, Published by Jossey Bass; 1st Pbk. Ed edition, 1997. ISBN-10: 078790870.pp.28-29.
[6] ‘Narcissism and the DSM’ February 2011, Vol 42, No. 2, page 67 American Psychological Association.
[7] Personality disorders in modern life. By T. Millon and R. Davis 2000. Published by John Wiley & Sons. 1st edition.
[8] Cocaine:An Unauthorized Biography byDominic Streatfeild. Published by St. Martin’s Press, 26 Jun 2002 |  “On May 16th, 1499 Amerigo Vespucci set sail for the New World. Three months later, having navigated his way along the coastline of Brazil, he washed up on an idyllic desert island fifteen leagues from the mainland. There he was appalled to discover a tribe of hideous Indians, their mouths stuffed full of leaves “like beasts.” The leaves were coca, source of the drug cocaine.Five hundred years later, the effects of the discovery are still felt. In 1999 South America produced 613,4000 tons of coca, with a potential yield of 765 tons of cocaine. Last year a United Nations report estimated that the global cocaine trade generated $92 billion per year – $20 billion more than the combined revenues of Microsoft, Kellogg’s and McDonald’s.”